Friday, February 15, 2013

Sharon’s dumbed-down Boeuf Bourguignon

Many of her recipes are family-friendly and easy.

A scene in Julie and Julia  makes Boeuf Bourguignon recipe look as if it were a major undertaking. It is actually a snap. One can even improvise and make it easier still. I do. For me, it is one of those  meals that I can do with one hand tied behind my back. Well, almost. Here my dumbed down approach, which is still knock-out delicious.After all, it is really nothing more than beef stew with red wine.

Sharon’s dumbed-down Boeuf Bourguignon

I use a 4 quart casserole pot that works as well on top of the stove as in it. It is one of those porcelain-covered cast iron jobs. Sometimes, I even serve it right out of this pot. After all, it is comfort food.

What do to
3 lbs stew beef
I usually buy stewing beef sold as a pot roast or chuck steak because it is cheaper than beef that is already cut up. Then I trim the fatty bits, and toss them into the pot where I render them so I can use the fat to braise the beef. If I need more fat, I add some oil. Meanwhile, I cut the beef into bite-sized pieces, then you sear them in the rendered fat.
You need to sear the beef fast at a fairly high heat. As soon as the pieces are browned, remove them from the pot. NOTE: Do not crowd them, or else the moisture released will steam rather than brown them. Do them bit by bit and remove each batch before adding more. When they are all done, pour off the excess fat,
3 cups red wine that tastes good enough to drink
Use it to deglaze the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. NOTE: Full bodied wines from France are my choice.
2 cups beef boullion
This is the cheating part – I don’t make the broth from scratch. I use one can of condensed beef broth and a canful of water.  Add the seared beef to the wine in the pot, and then add the broth.
1 T tomato paste
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
½ tsp fresh thyme
Add these three ingredients to the rest of the ingredients in the pot, and stir. There should be enough liquid to cover the meat. If not, add more broth or water. NOTE: I keep tablespoons of tomato paste frozen and at the ready. It is simple. I plop 1T mounds of it on some waxed paper, freeze them, and then pop them into a Ziploc baggie.
Once the beef, broth, wine and seasonings have reached a simmer point, put the covered pot into a 325F oven, and you are free to go and read a book and drink wine for 2 ½ hours. Beneath is what you need for the final stage:
1 lb fresh mushrooms
My favourites are King Oyster mushrooms, but you can’t get them everywhere. Crimini mushrooms are my 2nd choice. Clean them, and then chop them into quarters or slices, whatever suits your fancy. Think bite-sized.
18-24 small onions – 1” diameter
This is a second place where cheating may be desirable. Small onions are finicky, although if you want to impress someone – even yourself – they are the way to go. Hunks of onion work pretty well too. Again, think bite-sized.
½ T oil
2 T butter
Heat this until it froths, then drop in the chopped mushrooms, and toss them until they are slightly brown. Do likewise with the onions – only slightly carmelized.
After the beef has been simmering for 2 ½ hours, add the onions and mushrooms, and simmer for ½ hour. Remove from the oven. Pour off at least 2 cups of the broth which you will then add slowly to the roux that you will make next.
3 T softened butter
3T Flour
Make a roux. If you don’t know how, Google roux. Once the flour & butter are ready, add some of the broth, slowly at first, then whisk, then add more, until you have added about 2 cups of liquid and the liquid has thickened. Then return it to the meat mixture, stir it in, and pop it back into the oven while you make a salad or whatever.
Serve with potatoes, or egg noodles, and cooked veg and/or a robust salad. Oh yes, and open another bottle of a decent, affordable red wine. One worthy of you.

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